We have settled down for the month of November near the town of Casa Grande, AZ. Staying in one spot for a while has allowed us to meet some wonderful people and has given Celia a chance to do some painting. RVers are very friendly folks and just naturally have fun together. Here is no exception since many of the campers are staying for the winter. The temperature here has surprised us. It has been in the mid-eighties each day which ironically is much warmer than we experienced most of the summer. Places such as the North Cascades, Crater Lake, and even the coastline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca were much cooler. Staying in another desert, this time the Sonoran, does have its advantages. Wearing sandals, shorts, and sunscreen in November grows on you pretty quickly.
We decided to venture out today and visit the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ. The second Tuesday of each month is a “free day” for the guests. It was hard to ascertain this from their website but fortunately Trip Advisor had a post about it. It is not a secret in Phoenix as the very large parking lot was full and we had to park in the overflow parking when we arrived.
We were surprised at how large this botanical garden is. You really do have to use the map that they provide because the pathways have numerous little off-shoots that lead to different gardens or points of interest.
There are more than 800 volunteers that work in the 140 acre botanical garden. A staff of over 100 people care for more than 50,000 plant displays.
While there are hundreds of plants and displays, the star of the garden of course is the cacti. Who knew there were so many types? I surely did not.
We also learned some fun facts such as the Saguaro Cactus can survive up to two years without water yet the cactus is almost totally water. Our guide pointed to a large Saguaro and said that it can hold over 200 gallons of water. That means that it can weigh over a ton and some weigh as much as 4000 pounds! Saguaro Cacti also can live up to 200 years growing slowly each year. These cacti, found only in the Sonoran Desert, typically do not grow the “arms” until after they are 50 years of age.
One of the areas that is about to close the middle of this month is a butterfly exhibit. This exhibit draws a crowd because the visitors are able to walk among the butterflies in a large tent-like enclosure. Volunteers named the “flight crew” are everywhere helping with the flow of visitors and answering questions about the hundreds of butterflies. One of their main tasks is to be sure a butterfly doesn’t piggyback on you and escape their habitat. The volunteers’ weapon of choice is a feather duster.
We also learned that Arizona is the hummingbird capital of the USA. There are 15 species that make their home in this region. We were able to see a few of them while we were exploring the garden.
Interspersed among the cacti are commissioned works of art which add to the overall experience. There were glass sculptures by Chihuily, large glazed ceramic heads by Jun Kaneko, and works by other artists throughout the garden. Each of these works of art were installed in places that complemented the desert garden landscape.
We found the Desert Botanical Garden to be a unique experience. We are glad that we took the time to tour this atypical botanical garden.